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  • Writer's pictureRe:Jen Zen

Learning How to Not Compare Yourself

One of the hardest things an artist will tell you is that it is near impossible to not compare your art to other’s.

Art is visual, and when you are learning and growing and honing your skills… you can see the difference of where you are and where you want to be much more clearly than in other subjects. It is easy to see that the definition and poise from your favorite comic artist is not the same as the wobbly lines you have put so much time and effort into.

And it’s hard not to compare yourself with someone who has been doing it for years and years and years… but you end up doing it anyway. That’s hardly fair, right?

Not only this, but art is unquestionably a time-consuming skill to develop. Where in some subjects, if you put in a few hours of study, you may have found you can see results nearly immediately… creating art means to create muscle-memory. That takes a very long time to develop. So, it can be frustrating. And the works of others that you have put on a pedestal looks more and more unreachable.

How Can I Change?

It is easier said than done- but you need to actively work on not comparing yourself to others. You are hurting yourself.

You are not other people. Everyone is different and everyone is on different levels at different stages of life. Some start a hobby (whether it is dance, art, building, etc) when they are barely able to walk. And some find interest in it much later- maybe through their friends or through an event.

I had always been interested in art and often drew… but I didn’t dive headfirst into it until I was starting middle school. By that time, I was leaps and bounds behind friends that had started years earlier. And at the time, I would peer mournfully over at their charcoal portraits while I struggled with my own.

If someone is learning a language, and they had only started a week ago. Is it fair to compare them to someone who has been studying for 2 years… or 5 years…. or 20 years? Why is it that we do this with art?

The answer is: we shouldn’t.

So, How Can I Stop?

It will take active practice. You will need to change your internal language. Instead of saying things like “I wish I could paint like her.”... which, gives yourself a sense of impossibility, you will need to start changing it to positive, productive structures like: “I love her paintings, I will try to do something similar next time.”

“Why can’t I do this?” → “What can I do to do this?”

“I wish I could do that.” → “I will try to do that next time.”

“I work so hard but I can’t do the same.” → “My style is my own, and I will work hard to improve it.”

You will actively need to push yourself to re-word sentences. If you do it enough, your outlook will begin to change. But, these negative thoughts and comparisons will come.

The main point is that when they do, you acknowledge it and re-word it. When you are sensitive, and someone gives you a compliment- it can be hard to accept it at first.

... But after enough times, your self confidence and your optimism will increase. It is a similar method. Reinforcing positive thoughts again and again and again will help you. Just once is often not enough.

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